French satirist, was born in Paris in 1645. Little is known of his life: he was probably educated by the Oratorians; he certainly qualified as a lawyer, and he held a financial post at Caen. He entered the household of the Condés at Chantilly in 1684, first as tutor to the young Duke, then as librarian, and finally as guest. Les Caractères, first published in 1688, 'has put him among the immortals'. This pungent work established him as a merciless critic of his age and revealed his penetrating insight into human emotions. La Bruyère died at Versailles in 1696.